The Best Wading Socks for Fly Fishing: 2024 Reviews and Buying Guide

Written by: John Baltes
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I’m blessed to live pretty close to some of the best trout fishing in the world, and I’ve been tempted a time or two to hit the water without wading socks.

On a bright, hot day, I went barefoot with sandals, and even with the sun baking my back, I couldn’t feel anything below my knees. Not only was that pretty dangerous since I couldn’t feel the rocky bottom at all, it was only tolerable for an hour or so before the cold drove me out of the water. 

The second time, I thought I had wised up: I used insulated waders without wading socks. I knew that wasn’t ideal without an extra layer underneath that could shrug off the chill, but I was too tempted by the river. 

Pretty quickly I realized that was another mistake. The cold crept through the insulation in no time, and my feet were aching from the icy water.

That brought home a simple truth: wading socks are fly fishing essentials. And whether you wear them with wading shoes in warmer water or layer them under your insulated waders to provide extra warmth and cushion, going without them is a bad idea.

If you’re in the market for a new pair of wading socks, we’re here to help. Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorites, as well as a complete buying guide to get you up to speed quickly.

Quick glance at the best wading socks:

Related:

Best Wading Socks Reviewed

Simms Merino Thermal OTC Sock - Best Wader Socks

Simms Men's Merino Wool Thermal OTC Sock, XL, Carbon

Amazon 

Material: 81% merino wool, 18% nylon, 1% Lycra spandex

While wool isn’t a new material, it’s still around for the wet and cold because it works. Maintaining its insulating qualities even when soaked, it’s simply a fantastic material for wader socks.

Simms recognizes this, and as an alternative to neoprene designs, offers an over-the-calk Merino wool sock.

Not only are these very comfortable and durable, they’re pretty darn warm, too. And the soles sport extra cushioning right where you need it.

Fly anglers who face really cold water swear by these heavyweight socks, and there’s no questioning their comfort, durability, or warmth.

Pros:

  • Very warm
  • Waders slide over them easily
  • Excellent fit

Cons:

  • Expensive

Simms Neoprene Wading Socks

Simms Neoprene Wading Socks, Fly Fishing Wader Stocking w/Odor Control, Small

Amazon 

Material: 2.5mm neoprene

When the water is just degrees above freezing, Simms’s neoprene wading socks are exactly what you want on your feet.

Manufactured from 2.5mm neoprene with odor-fighting additives, Simms designed these wet wading socks to fit under your wading shoes, providing superior warmth and durability.

They’re easy to slip on and off your feet, and the thick neoprene not only provides exceptional warmth but also plenty of cushion underfoot. Comfort is a concern with wading socks, and Simms has improved the fit by making it more anatomical.

And though these wading socks are backed by Simms’s excellent warranty, you probably won’t need it, as their durability has proven to be outstanding.

The only thing I’m looking for in wading socks that these don’t provide is a good gravel guard.

But if you’re looking for a warm wet-wading sock, this is a very hard pair to beat.

Pros:

  • Very warm
  • Very durable
  • Anti-odor additions
  • Improved fit

Cons:

  • No gravel guard

Simms Flyweight Neoprene Wet-Wading Socks - Tied for Best Wet-Wading Socks

Bass Pro

Material: 2.5mm neoprene

Simms knows fly fishing, and with an enviable reputation as a producer of quality angling gear, you can count on their Flyweight neoprene wet-wading socks to keep you warm and comfortable.

These “flyweight” wading socks are designed to fit under Simms’s flyweight wading boots, offering an insulating layer that really works to keep your feet comfortable in icy water. And since these socks are fitted perfectly for that purpose, they provide all-day comfort, plenty of underfoot cushion, and a fool-proof gravel guard.

While among the most expensive wading socks on the market, one day wet wading in a cold stream will leave you very happy with the money you've spent on them.

Pros:

  • Very warm
  • Very durable
  • Excellent fit
  • Effective gravel guard

Cons:

  • Expensive

Korkers Unisex I-drain Neoprene Wading Sock

Korkers I-Drain Neoprene Wading Sock, 2.5mm, Color: Grey, Size: M (FA6300-MD)

Amazon 

Material: 2.5mm neoprene

Korkers has been manufacturing fly-fishing boots, waders, and socks for 60 years, and their unisex I-drain wading socks are a great choice for chilly water.

Manufactured from 2.5mm neoprene, you can count on their warmth and comfort, though they’re not nearly as form fitting as the Simms. That said, there are plenty of Korkers die-hards out there, and these relatively tall wading socks do a good job of keeping gravel and crud out of your boots.

Overall, I prefer the Simms Flyweights for their more comfortable fit and integrated gravel guard, but there’s no question that the Korkers are a warm choice for cold water wet wading.

Pros:

  • Very warm
  • Very durable

Cons:

  • The fit can be a bit off
  • No integrated gravel guard

Orvis Neoprene Wet Wading Guard Socks - Tied for Best Wet-Wading Socks

Material: 2.5mm neoprene

Orvis needs no introduction, and it’s no surprise at all that they offer an exceptional wet-wading sock.

Made from 2.5mm neoprene, these Guard Socks are thick and warm, providing plenty of underfoot padding. Shaped to fit well, they’re as good as the Simms Flyweights on these fronts, and they also include an integrated gravel guard.

And while some anglers use these without wading boots in warmer water, I wouldn’t recommend that as the bottoms just aren’t made for that abuse.

Overall, Orvis’s Guard Socks run neck and neck with the Simms Flyweights, including their price tag.

Pros:

  • Very warm
  • Very durable
  • Excellent fit
  • Effective gravel guard

Cons:

  • Expensive

Wetsox Wader Sox

Wetsox Wader Sox, Black Frictionless Wading Socks, Get in and Out of Any Wader or Boot Easily, 1mm Neoprene Keeps Feet Warm Wet or Dry

Amazon 

Material: synthetic fabric over a 1mm neoprene core

When cold the water demands waders, Wetsox has your feet covered - literally.

Made with a 1mm neoprene core coerced by a slick synthetic fabric, they allow your waders to slide on and off without necessitating a tug of war. And that neoprene really does wonders for comfort when the water is toe-numbingly cold.

As they should, Wetsox’s Wader Sox fit over your calf, staying in place well while providing the insulation and underfoot cushion you want for a long morning. They generally fit well, and when worn under insulated waders, allow you to fish the coldest steams in comfort.

Pros:

  • Very warm
  • Waders slide over them easily
  • Excellent fit

Cons:

  • ???

Buying Guide: What You Need to Know About Wading Socks

While there are lots of options out there, what separates the socks that made our shortlist from those that didn’t are the details.

Wet-wading vs. waders

The first thing you need to know when buying wading socks is that there are two general styles.

Wet-wading socks are designed to fit under boots, increasing their insulation and comfort, as well as preventing small gravel, sand, and muck from getting inside. They’ll typically be made from thick, 2.5mm neoprene, providing excellent insulation in cold water.

Wading socks are designed to fit under waders and usually cover your calves. They’ll be slimmer than wet-wading socks, and if made from neoprene, will typically be about 1mm thick. They can also be made from wool because of its outstanding insulating qualities even when wet.

Wading socks need to stay put all day, provide plenty of warmth, and help cushion the soles of your feet. It helps, too, if they allow your waders to slip on and off easily.

Warmth

Trout love cold water - that’s a fact. And every fly angler I know has experienced frozen feet at one time or another.

That’s a recipe for misery, as I know first hand. 

To prevent bone-aching cold, good wading socks of either style should provide plenty of insulation even when wet. 

Cotton is completely out, as it loses all of its insulating properties when nothing more than damp. Instead, wool and neoprene are the best bets, as both of these materials provide plenty of insulation no matter how soaked they get.

Gravel guards

If you’ve ever gotten sand or a tiny piece of gravel in your shoe, you’ll know exactly why you want gravel guards in wet-wading socks.

By keeping irritants sealed out, they keep you comfortable longer, and you won’t need to leave the stream, sit down, and clean out your boots every few minutes.

I won’t fish with wet-wading socks that don’t offer this feature.

Underfoot cushion

Hard rocks underfoot offer nothing but pain. If you want to fish longer, you need to fish more comfortably, and plenty of cushion will allow you to maximize your time on the water.

Whether you’re looking for wet-wading socks or wader socks, the best options provide plenty of padding for your soles.

Durability

Angling gear takes a beating, and your wading socks aren’t immune to long mornings on the water and lots of walking.

Good wading socks are built to last and backed by their manufacturer against defects.

Our Picks: Simms’s Flyweight Neoprene Wet-Wading Socks, Orvis’s Neoprene Wet Wading Guard Socks, and Simms’s Merino Thermal OTC Sock

If you’re looking for wet-wading socks, you simply can’t do better than the Simms Flyweights or the Orvis Guard Socks. Both of these excellent products provide plenty of cold-fighting insulation, pad the bottoms of your feet, and feature gravel guards that’ll keep you fishing more consistently.

They’re durable, too, and provide a great fit.

If you need wading socks to fit under your insulated waders, look no further than Simms’s Merino Thermals. Loved by fly anglers everywhere, these very warm socks stay put, allow your waders to slide on and off pretty easily, and offer plenty of underfoot cushion.

We hope that this article has helped you select your next pair of wading socks, and we’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or concerns.

Please leave a comment below!

About The Author
John Baltes
Chief Editor & Contributor
If it has fins, John has probably tried to catch it from a kayak. A native of Louisiana, he now lives in Sarajevo, where he's adjusting to life in the mountains. From the rivers of Bosnia to the coast of Croatia, you can find him fishing when he's not camping, hiking, or hunting.
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